family history

Blessed to be like three women who raised me


Today is International Women’s Day. I was searching in a box for something from high school and didn’t find it. I did, however, find a piece of paper that is nearly 40 years old. This paper is the transcript of the blessing my father gave me when I was not quite two months old. A traditional baby blessing as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is given by the father to an infant son or daughter for two reasons: to give the baby a name, and to give a blessing both spiritual and physical in nature. During the blessing he gave me, my father focused on three women from whom I could learn from their wisdom, counsel and example.

First, he talked about my maternal grandmother, Grandma DeeDee. Today, she is 101 years old, teaches my son piano lessons (plus 19 other students), and gardens when the weather agrees (which today it is snowing so it does not). Grandma was also my piano teacher for nearly 15 years. Throwing out a rough estimate, that’s over 300 hours spent together in lessons. Typically, these were early morning before school when Grandma would drive up to our house because there was no earthly way for me to drag my tired head down to her house at such an hour. So what did my dad say to his tiny baby girl about his mother-in-law during the blessing? Here are a two highlights:

  • learn from her “the ability to be an unremitting perfectionist, the capability to develop the taste for fine and beautiful things, the capability and the talent to become educated”
  • “…becoming well trained and educated is something for which [God is] pleased and something which we would encourage”

Second, he talked about my Grandma Campbell, we call her Grumma. I have many memories of time spent at her house and then condo, as she hosted so many family gatherings. We learned family history, dressed up from the costume drawer in a little bedroom, had Easter egg hunts in the backyard, swam in the pool at her condo, and gathered for Christmas lunches. From Grumma, my dad blessed me to learn how to:

  • “recognize the spiritual strength to raise a family by herself”
  • “recognize the complete and total dedication to children in setting aside all worldly things for the benefit of her family”
  • “know, somehow, spiritually, the kind of sacrifices associated with that kind of life”

Finally, he talked about my mother, who raised me and my six siblings to be hard-working, kind, and successful adults, parents, and spouses. She also did this while working and sharing her talent as a professional violinist. One of my favorite things is to sit at the piano and accompany her on the violin. From my mom, my dad blessed me, as a teeny tiny baby to:

  • “observe very carefully the intricate life of her mother for she blends together so many wonderful things”
  • “the ability to concentrate and specialize and perfect areas of her choosing”
  • “select other areas to become partly specialized, even good and well-rounded”
  • “find the ability to receive inspiration and even revelation from heaven and that her life might be so directed”

Those are some big dreams for an infant. Growing up with these three women, I was constantly around their examples of hard work, education, sacrifice, and humor. Grumma’s laugh is infectious. Grandma DeeDee is witty and wise. And Granmere (my mom) fills a room with hilarity when she has one of her giggle fits. You can still be silly even when you’re talented, professional and smart. That’s what I learned from all three. Lucky me to grow up with strong women.